My noble Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon), has made the following written statement:
On Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 December, I chaired the UK-Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London, the 20th such gathering of OT leaders. The Council was attended by elected leaders and representatives from Anguilla, Ascension Island, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St Helena, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The key themes of discussion at this year’s Council were preparations for the UK’s exit from the European Union; financial services, including beneficial ownership registers; future economic growth, focussing on trade and investment; the constitutional relationship with the UK; the Global Britain agenda; passport issues; safeguarding of vulnerable persons and natural disaster resilience management.
Ministerial colleagues from the Departments for International Development (The right hon. Lord Bates), Exiting the European Union (Robin Walker MP), International Trade (George Holingbery MP), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Therese Coffey MP) and Her Majesty’s Treasury (The right hon. Mel Stride MP) attended the discussions, as did the Minister for the Constitution (Chloe Smith MP). I held bilateral meetings with territory leaders. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (The right hon. Sir Alan Duncan, KCMG MP) met Members of the Falklands Islands Legislative Assembly.
The Council agreed priorities and set out a number of important commitments and areas for joint work in the year ahead.
We continued our dialogue on the implications for the overseas territories of the UK’s departure from the EU and reiterated our objective to achieve an outcome that works for all parts of the British family. We will seek to ensure the security and economic sustainability of the overseas territories is preserved and strengthened post- Brexit. We discussed how we can better promote the overseas territories as part of the global British family by using the GREAT campaign, bringing the richness and diversity of the territories to our shared international British brand. We reiterated the UK’s commitment to the OTs as a vital part of the British family, and discussed how to ensure the constitutional arrangements work effectively to promote the best interests of each individual territory and of the UK.
We welcomed the progress made by the overseas territories who are committed to implement recommendations made by the Code of Conduct Group, with the outcome that the territories would not be placed on the “tax blacklist”. We acknowledged that there have been huge challenges and have recognised the ongoing issues. We highlighted the importance of continued engagement with the EU Commission and underlined that the delivery of legislation is of paramount importance.
The press statement reflects the commitment of the Governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK to continue to work in partnership to achieve the vision set out in the June 2012 White Paper: The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability.
In line with our commitment in the White Paper, we will continue to report to Parliament on progress by Government Departments.
A copy of the press statement has been published on the www.gov.uk website.